National Geographic : 2001 Sep
he streets of El Bawiti, the largest town in Bahariya Oasis, are busier now. Hotels have been built since more than 200 Greco-Roman mummies were discovered nearby.* Yet El Bawiti hid an older secret. We have found the tombs of Bahariya's legendary governor, Zed-Khons-uef-ankh (left), his father, and his wife in a maze of chambers beneath local homes (right). Archaeologists had been look ing for Zed-Khons-uef-ankh ever since my coun tryman Ahmed Fakhry found tombs of three of the governor's relatives in 1938. Zed-Khons-uef-ankh ruled Bahariya during Egypt's 26th dynasty (664-525 B.c.), a time when the isolated oases of the Western Desert were strategi cally important buffers against Libyan invaders. Source of fine wines, Bahariya thrived at the crossroads of caravan routes. Its governors were wealthy men with connections to the throne. Zed- . iro Khons-uef-ankh built a chapel in a temple nearby with Western a relief depicting him as large as the pharaoh, a bold EGYPT assertion from a powerful man we now know better. SUDAN NMAPS *See "Valley of the Mummies," by Donovan Webster, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, October 1999.